February 17, 2012

Oregon jury awards $25 million to smoker in retrial; original award was $150 million

Oregonlive is reporting that an Oregon jury has awarded $25 million in punitive damages to the family of a smoker in a lawsuit against Philip Morris.  This was a partial retrial of a case in which the original jury awarded $169,000 in compensatory damages and $150 million in punitive damages.  As we reported in June 2010, the Oregon Supreme Court reversed that award because the trial court had given a jury instruction that improperly allowed the jury to punish Philip Morris for injuries to nonparties.  Although the second jury's award of $25 million is much less than the original award, it still represents a ratio of 148 to one, and Philip Morris says it plans to appeal again on the grounds that the award is excessive.  The case is Schwarz v. Philip Morris.